Cuba’s National Theater and its Awful Promotion of the Havana Ballet Festival

Isbel Diaz Torres

Platea Sala Covarrubias.
Platea Sala Covarrubias.

HAVANA TIMES — I was witness to the National Theater’s awful management when it comes to promoting the performances that take to their stage, especially when it comes to promoting such an important event like the Havana Ballet Festival which ended on Sunday.

In an exchange of emails between myself and Jose Manuel Cordero Hernandez, who looks after the Internal Communications department at this famous Cuban cultural hub, I was able to verify how bureaucracy and maltreatment can drive the image of a well-renowned institution into the ground.

Mr. Cordero did not only refuse to send me information about the Ballet Festival’s program on repeated occasions, but he also labeled my demand to access this information that he had in his hands, “arrogant”.

The American Dance Company
The American Dance Company

“We don’t send out the program which is available on the website,” the official said. “If you don’t have [Internet] access, then wait until the newspapers publish it.”

Maybe it was due to people waiting for this information to be made publicly available that the Sala Covarrubias was only half full on Saturday October 29th. Only half of the room’s capacity was able to watch the splendid performance put on by the American Dance Company, which could have danced in front of a packed audience keen to see foreign dance shows, if they had just known that the performance would take place there.

Cordero did not only refuse to offer this public information that he had his hands on, but he tried to pass himself off as the hero/victim by saying that “I doubt that any other theater would have explained so much to you…” and “I’ve used my own free time to respond to you promptly as I practically have no time.”

Platea 2 Sala Covarrubias

It seems like, in addition to not receiving the information I requested, I should feel grateful because he was just doing (albeit poorly) his job.

Like any good bureaucrat, he also shifted the blame onto somebody else: “it’s a sign that all information relating to the Ballet Festival can only be given by those at the Cuban National Ballet.”

As well as this unpleasant occurrence, the National Theater didn’t open its ticket offices to the public on the date that had been announced on national TV, put up the program on its walls the same day tickets went on sale, and people could only buy four tickets each for all of the Festival’s events.

I bought my four tickets to see the American Dance Company, only to see afterwards with great sadness that the room was half empty; and furthermore, I couldn’t see any of the Festival’s other performances.

Balcony, sala Covarrubias
Balcony, Sala Covarrubias

In short, I hope that with the new online ticket purchasing options they have, the National Theater doesn’t forget that the Cuban population hardly has access to the internet. I also hope that they can train up their personnel in the Internal Communications Department properly.








Isbel Diaz

Isbel Diaz Torres: Pinar del Rio and Havana are my cities. I was born in one on March 1, 1976, and I’ve always lived in the other. I am a biologist and poet, though at times I’ve also been a musician, translator, teacher, computer geek, designer, photographer and editor. I’m very non-conformist and a defender of differences – perhaps due to always having been an ever-repressed “model child.” Nothing enthralls me more than the unknown, nature and art; these serve as my sources of mystery and development. A surprising activism has been born in me over the recent period. Though I’m not very sure how to channel it, I feel that it’s a worthy and legitimate energy. Let’s hope I have the discernment to manage it.